The Crumbling Third Pillar

Democracy, free enterprise and an unfettered media are the foundation of America’s incredible success. We could not have become the most powerful nation in the history of the world with one of these pillars missing or weakened. That is why the tectonic shift in how news is gathered and disseminated is so vitally important to our future. The ownership of our mainstream media has become more and more radicalized and concentrated, with a diminished number of news outlets and independent journalists. Almost all cable systems are owned by one of the major media conglomerates. Two-thirds of today’s newspapers are monopolies.

What does this mean for ordinary Americans? Everything outside one’s personal thoughts and communications is determined by newsrooms increasingly influenced by political agendas. This runs smack against the principles set by our Founding Fathers that called for an independent press, which has historically been considered the bedrock of democracy. What is more disturbing is this small group of media executives imbibed by their political power determines what ordinary Americans do not see and hear. Truth be told, our former and current administration has intimidated today’s journalists by “punishing them” for unfavorable coverage by limiting access. The result is that many journalists have been made to toe the company line by not asking the tough questions; the answers to which the public deserves to hear.

Where is the media outcry about our government adding $10 trillion of new federal debt? Or the moral outrage about our currency being so devalued that it is rapidly becoming vapor paper? Who is asking why the federal budget increased by one-third or $1 trillion is just one year? Why are there no front page stories incensed that our 2009 federal budget roughly equals all the gold ever mined in the history of the world? Something is wrong.

We are seeing the collapse of investigative reporting – the kind that would have screamed bloody murder about looming media censorship, naked corruption, the rise of militant unionism, stratospheric budget deficits, unprecedented tax increases, the shackling of American entrepreneurs and exporters and apologetic narcissism.

The oligarchic media has morphed itself into a noise machine mimicking the sloganeering of the political elite. Time was when newspapers where the source of penetrating investigative reporting so essential to our democracy. Largely because of their betrayal of trust with the American people, they are losing their audiences while losing their shirts, financially speaking. Was Walter Cronkite a Democrat or Republican? Did anyone know? Did anyone care? He was the “most trusted man in America.” So…why should I know any newsman’s allegiance?

Let’s take a brief tour around our country’s leading newspapers or at least what is left of them.

The Tribune Company, the nation’s second largest publisher of newspapers filed for bankruptcy December 2008. They own The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel , Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant amongst others. McClatchy, our third largest newspaper conglomerate is teetering on bankruptcy. Their stock is nearly worthless. They own The Sacramento Bee, The Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and The Charlotte Observer.

Both of Philadelphia’s major newspapers are in bankruptcy, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. The same is true for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver is now closed after being in business for nearly 150 years as is the San Francisco Chronicle that has been around for 144 years. The Seattle Post Intelligencer is gone.

The New York Times is hemorrhaging. They lost $74 million in the first quarter of 2009 and have lost millions in value. They are struggling to keep the venerable Boston Globe afloat to save themselves, if they can be saved at all. The Washington Post is reporting losses while its subsidiary Newsweek is in serious trouble.

On to radio.

According to the Center for American Progress and Free Press, nationwide there is nine hours of conservative talk for every one hour of progressive / liberal talk. Air America, the mother ship of progressive radio filed for bankruptcy in 2006. Even in Washington D.C. where the Democrats control the White House, Congress and 80% of the registered voters are Democrats, the one and only progressive talk station has closed. Progressive radio stations are dropping like flies in every part of the country. Why, because station owners cannot get decent ratings to attract advertisers. The progressive stuff just isn’t selling.

What has gotten the progressive folks so uptight is they understand radio is a more powerful medium than cable news when it comes to long-term national influence. It is therefore no mystery why bringing back the so called “Fairness Doctrine” is being heavily touted. “If we can’t beat ‘em, silence ‘em” seems to be their only hope.

To bring back the unconstitutional, un-American “Fairness Doctrine”, is a slap in the face to our First Amendment and to all real journalists. Let’s encourage freedom of speech and free enterprise at the same time. Anybody, no matter what race or gender, can own a radio station and can offer 24/7 progressive programming. Why should we care if it is not commercially viable? This is tantamount to forcing upon the world gas guzzling Hummers just because GM makes them.

Day after day the concept of freedom, family values, shared responsibility and the building of a stronger, prouder America is trampled under our mainstream media’s feet. They just don’t get it. We are smarter than they think.

The meteoric rise of the new media is inevitable as the traditional media i s grossly failing. Independent cable and radio, the Internet, blogs , podcasts , YouTube and MySpace is increasingly where American’s are getting their news.

We now have the technology to tell a different story –  the real story. And it is resonating in ways we do not yet fully understand. In a free enterprise system capital always gravitates to the winner and that is increasingly no longer the traditional media.

As the old adage goes “The first victim of war is the truth”. Americans are in rebellion against a traditional media that has lost all credibility.

I am not buying into the surrender of media to neglect its responsibilities when it comes to putting this country under a magnifying glass. Both for good and bad news . And I am confident that there are millions of my fellow citizens who share my firm belief that America’s best days are ahead of us. Not because of our government and failed media, but despite them. I am challenging the mainstream media to get onboard and give Americans an unfiltered look at the truth. If they can’t, then I will. I’ll shout it out, loud and clear, every week in my columns and on my nationally syndicated radio show.

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